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Must a Culture Be Experienced to be Truly Understood - Dissertation Example

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This paper “Must a Culture Be Experienced to be Truly Understood?” investigates this question and these conflicting perspectives through analyzing a number of sometimes conflicting ethnographic and cultural theories. It considers arguments against traditional positivist accounts of ethnography…
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Must a Culture Be Experienced to be Truly Understood
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Download file to see previous pages Whatever the theory, it’s clear that stereotypes present a problem for society and ethnographic research as they seem an innate part of the description and greatly distort anthropological information. Indeed, Geertz states, “Nothing has done more...to discredit cultural analysis than the construction of impeccable depictions of formal order in whose actual existence nobody can quite believe” (Geertz, pg. 18). As one can imagine this makes the challenge of understanding a culture merely through reading or television is difficult and must be experienced through direct experience.
While the problem of stereotypes poses a problem for observing a culture through experience, a number of theoretical approaches argue that you can experience a culture merely by reading about it. While theoretical writings on this have been abstract, one might consider Requirements for Ethnographies (Marcus, pg. 66) that suggests to, “Map the relationship of these properties...not be structural appropriations of discourse formations...but rather as products of the complex sets of associations and experience which compose them.” Indeed, a great amount of post-modern literature demonstrates this self-reflexive pattern. This is a sense of ethnographic understanding that relies not merely on experience, but also requires elaborate and in-depth modes of expression. In this understanding, the role of direct experience is arguably reduced to that of the comprehensive understanding of a variety of perspectives. However, one must ultimately question: is it possible to say anything when, by theoretical acknowledgment, one must say everything? ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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